Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Mid-Year Indie Box Office Hits and Misses: It's Been 'Grand' So Far (But Not for Everyone)

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 1, 2014 at 1:58PM

It's been a big year so far at the indie box office, though really only thanks to a handful of films (and one "Grand" film in particular).
1
The Grand Budapest Hotel
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"

It's been a big year so far at the indie box office, though really only thanks to a handful of films -- and one "Grand" film in particular.

At this point in 2013, the top five specialty releases --"The Place Beyond The Pines," "Mud," "Quartet," "Spring Breakers" and "Before Midnight" -- had taken in $80.1 million. That was roughly on par with the $83.2 million the top five indies from the first half of 2012 grossed, and considerably up from $68.1 million in 2011 and just $45.2 million in 2010.

READ MORE: The 25 Highest Grossing Indies of 2014 (So Far)

Jon Favreau (right) and John Leguizamo in "Chef"
Jon Favreau (right) and John Leguizamo in "Chef"

Thanks to "The Grand Budapest Hotel" ($58.5 million) and to a lesser degree "Chef" ($19.4 million) this year is well ahead of them all. Those two films alone grossed a total of $78 million, with "Belle," "Bad Words" and "The Railway Man" making up the rest of the top 5 and bringing the overall count to $99.8 million, up roughly 20% from last year.  The only problem with that is how weighted the total amount was to just two films, meaning only so many folks are really benefiting. 2014 has so far seen less films cross the $15 million, $10 million, $5 million and $1 million milestones than any of the past 4 years. Take a look at this comparison:

2011 - 1 specialty films grossed $15 million+
2012 - 2 specialty films grossed $15 million+
2013 - 3 specialty films grossed $15 million+
2014 - 2 specialty films grossed $15 million+

2011 - 4 specialty films grossed $10 million+
2012 - 2 specialty films grossed $10 million+
2013 - 4 specialty films grossed $10 million+
2014 - 2 specialty films grossed $10 million+

2011 - 6 specialty films grossed $5 million+
2012 - 6 specialty films grossed $5 million+
2013 - 6 specialty films grossed $5 million+
2014 - 4 specialty films grossed $5 million+

2011 - 28 specialty films grossed $1 million+
2012 - 27 specialty films grossed $1 million+
2013 - 30 specialty films grossed $1 million+
2014 - 25 specialty films grossed $1 million+

But let's first focus on the upside: The success of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is pretty mind-blowing and instills hope for the future of art house hits. It's the highest grossing film ever for director Wes Anderson, and #7 in the 20 year history of distributor Fox Searchlight (which between this and "12 Years a Slave" winning Best Picture is making for a very happy anniversary indeed). After opening to an all-time record per-theater-average (for a live action film) -- $202,792 from 4 theaters, the film chugged along at a very impressive pace, grossing over $1 million for 10 weekends straight, and still averaging over $1,000 per theater this past weekend, its 17th.

READ MORE: 'Begin Again' And 'Snowpiercer' Open Strong in Big Weekend for The Weinsteins

The Lunchbox

For a while there, it was almost the only major good news 2014 had seen from the specialty box office. January to March was a pretty slow ride, with only a handful of genuine success stories. Oddly, the main trio of them were all films that had clearly timed their releases to benefit from potential Oscar nominations in the foreign language and documentary categories, respectively: Sony Pictures Classics' Indian import "The Lunchbox," the Penn & Teller doc "Tim's Vermeer" and Roadside Attractions' Chilean film "Gloria." But in the end, India didn't submit "The Lunchbox," and the Academy snubbed both "Gloria" and "Tim's Vermeer."  That didn't seem to matter to specialty filmgoers, though. "Gloria" took in $2.2 million, higher than all but one of the actual foreign language Oscar nominees. "Tim's Vermeer" remains the highest grossing documentary of 2014 six months later with $1.7 million, and "The Lunchbox" trumped them all by managing its way to a pretty incredible $4.2 million.

By spring, a few more hits popped up: Millennium managed $3.7 million out of John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo"; A24 saw success from the $2.5 million grossing Scarlett Johannson starrer "Under The Skin"; IFC and RADiUS-TWC found minor doc breakouts with "Fed Up" and "Finding Vivian Maier," each grossing around $1.4 million, and Music Box Films had a pair of significant successes in British drama "Le Week-end" ($2.2 million) and even more so in Polish import "Ida," which has rode critical acclaim to a $2.5 million (and counting) gross. But it wasn't until the late April one-two punch of Open Road's "Chef" and Fox Searchlight's "Belle" that we had full-fledge breakouts. The latter -- a 1700s-set British drama with no marketable stars, no less -- has grossed $9.7 million and should top out around $11 million.  The former, which indeed had a lot more mainstream appeal on paper thanks to stars Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr, Dustin Hoffman and Scarlett Johannson, has taken in nearly $20 million with at least another $5 million where that came from.

Shia Labeouf and Stacy Martin in "Nymphomaniac."
Shia Labeouf and Stacy Martin in "Nymphomaniac."

That said, for every "Budapest Hotel" or "The Lunchbox" or "Ida" or "Chef," there were quite a few disappointments:

  • Though it surely made up for it on VOD, Magnolia couldn't manage $1 million from either of the intensely hyped editions of Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac."
  • A24 just managed that number from both "Locke" and "Enemy," and should soon see the same of "The Rover," but considering the appeal of stars Tom Hardy, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Pattinson, respectively, one would have expected higher (A24 has had much more luck with female-driven films so far this year, with the aforementioned "Under The Skin" and recent opener "Obvious Child").
  • Another indie star vehicle -- Jude Law in "Dom Hemingway" -- fared even worse, grossing only $523,511 for Fox Searchlight.
  • David Gordon Green's "Joe" might have got some great reviews (notably for lead actor Nicolas Cage), but it could only drum up $373,375 at the box office.
  • Jesse Eisenberg had two films come out this spring, both from widely acclaimed directors: Kelly Reichardt's "Night Moves" and Richard Ayoade's "The Double." But neither quite took off with audiences, grossing $208,307 and $162,322, respectively.
  • Mike Myers' documentary "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" also fell below expectations, taking in $175,803 so far for RADiUS-TWC.
  • While its $7.8 million gross remains the fourth highest for a specialty film so far in 2014, Focus Features surely had bigger dreams for Jason Bateman's "Bad Words," which was one of the biggest pick-ups out of Toronto last year. Interesting to note that this another example of a male-oriented film largely aimed at male audiences -- which really is a trend through most of these "disappointments."


So into the second half of 2014 we go, with a lot of promise already in the immediate future. Very new releases "Begin Again," "Obvious Child" and "Snowpiercer" have shown a lot of promise so far, but it's just too early to call their ultimate success. And July has the likes of "Boyhood," "Magic In The Moonlight," "A Most Wanted Man" and "Happy Christmas" all en route, which could definitely get Q3 off to a very grand start.

This article is related to: News, Box Office, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Chef, Belle






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More